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Posted on Tue, May 15, 2012 : 10:19 a.m.

State lawmakers to decide if Michigan Stadium gets liquor license for 2013 Winter Classic

By Kellie Woodhouse


The National Hockey League in February announced that The 2013 Winter Classic will be held at Michigan Stadium.

This report has been updated.

In February the University of Michigan and National Hockey League jointly announced that the 2013 Winter Classic will take place at Michigan Stadium.

But hosting one of hockey's biggest events isn't simple.

U-M is awaiting the approval of legislation that will make it temporarily legal to serve alcohol in the bone-dry Michigan Stadium. reported in February that U-M originally intended to use one of 12 special one-day liquor licenses it's granted each year, but school officials discovered the temporary licenses aren't applicable to large crowds like the one expected at the stadium on Jan 1, 2013.

Instead, a special license —granted in the form of a law— is needed to serve alcohol to Winter Classic crowds.

"If the established outdoor program is a nationally televised game between two professional hockey teams, the commission may allow the promotion and advertising of alcoholic liquor brands on the campus of a public university," House bill 5611, proposed by state Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Chelsea, reads.

As The Detroit News first reported, the license, if approved, would be good for 30 days. The House Regulatory Reform Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on whether to approve the legislation.

U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said he expects the bill to be approved. "This change that is proposed is at the recommendation of the liquor control board of the state," he told

The NHL announced earlier this year that it will pay $3 million to rent Michigan Stadium for next year's Winter Classic. By hosting the event in the nation's largest stadium, the NHL is hoping draw a record hockey crowd to the Maple Leafs and Red Wings New Year's Day match-off.

Fitzgerald said the NHL has rented Michigan Stadium from Dec. 22 to January 2 and the liquor could be served anytime during that period. "They may have some other events," he explained.

U-M Athletic Director David Brandon said in February that the having a temporary liquor license is key to hosting the event at Michigan Stadium.

“The fact that there will be liquor served is no problem whatsoever,” regent S. Martin Taylor said in February. "This in a non-university event. We are truly just leasing the facilities.”

Fitzgerald emphasized that the license is a one-time deal.

"This doesn't change anything," he said. "I don't want it to be construed that somehow Michigan is going to start serving beer at Michigan Stadium. This is just for the NHL game."

This story has been revised to reflect that U-M will be paid $3 million for facility use. Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

It's amazing: Those who are arguing in favor the liquor license act as if those of us who are not so sure are encouraging prohibition, are denying people their lawful right to drink, etc. Why is it that a big sporting event cannot be done without alcohol, especially at a university venue which does not serve alcohol? Conversely, is alcohol served in the presidential suite and big university fundraisers at the football stadium (or Crisler)? The golf course argument is a good one, but there, the university and its facilities are not serving up alcohol. I just find it puzzling why everybody is so convinced that there MUST be alcohol to have the big hockey game? Wouldn't it be quite a statement for the university and the state to say--"No, we will not have the license to raise awareness about the potential for alcohol abuse, and we are a place where lots of alcohol abuse occurs, and we will not condone it in this public forum"? It would certainly raise the discussion and be a teachable moment. Which is sort of the purpose of a big public university.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

The fans involved tend to be poorly socialized degenerates who require alcohol &/or drugs to endure the barbaric displays they attend and to tolerate each other. Will (medical) marijuana, etc also be available? There's money in that also or so I'm told.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

I say no to EtOH.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.

Its obvious by the post here their are many "fans" that can't get through a few hours without their crutch! Make all the excuses you want its a crutch for those that can't face life without it for a few hours!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

What makes it fun? The taste? The fact that you are likely to do something you would not otherwise? The morning after? That you can forget your worries for a while? The fact that beer cost $8 -$10 per six pack?


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Yes, drinking is fun. It also makes other things that are fun even more fun. Just because a tiny percentage of the population possess a gene that makes it not fun for them to drink, it doesn't necessarily mean all must be punished.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

SMC My statement was if you can't get through a couple hours at a hockey game without a drink. And your statement was drinking is fun.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

My God, you're right. I never realized that all those times I've had a glass of wine with dinner, a beer after mowing the lawn, or a scotch with my cigar, I've been using the drink as a crutch. Oh wait, not one of those amounts of alcohol is enough to cause any mind-altering effect on me. Perhaps this is because different people react to alcohol in different ways. Some of us can handle our drink, while others can't.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

'most people drink for enjoyment" That's your argument? Why do people do drugs? Enjoyment and to FORGET about life in the real world! I.E. crutch!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Despite what they would have you believe in the 12-step programs, most people drink for enjoyment, not to feed an addiction. Going to hockey games is fun. Drinking is fun. Going to hockey games and drinking, therefore, is twice as much fun.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

The math is pretty simple. 6-8 bucks a beer. If 50,000 fans drink three beers each that $900k to $1.2M. Seeing as this is a major event and Canadians are use to paying 6-8 bucks a beer a million dollar take is not out of the question.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

I was told that they get 12 of these passes to serve alcohol for one day at special outings and events. I guess I have no clue as to what the big deal is if they have these passes. All one can wish for is a blizzard.

no flamers!

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

"My friend" still drinks at the Big House--isn't that why flasks were invented?

Jon Saalberg

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Well done, GOP. Repeal the motorcycle helmet law, then move on to the weighty matters that count most to ALL Michiganders - jobs? education? affordable housing? Heck, forget those items. What is important is ensuring a bunch of people can drink alcohol at a sporting event. I know this is heresy, but I guess it would be too much too ask to have a dry event? People are high and mighty about alcohol consumption, except when they can't have it at their professional sporting events. Oh, and there is the little matter of the money to be made selling a couple of bucks' worth of beer for $7 - hard to resist the profit in that.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

I would just love the NHL, the university, and the state legislature to not serve the alcohol at this game. It would be a nice principled stand against alcohol abuse, and it is a college campus. It would be a good lesson to the NHL and its fans that you don't need to be loaded to have a good time. And for those who will argue that I am pro-prohibition, that is not true. It just worries me a lot that binge drinking at colleges is way up, with associated liver disease, date rape, fights, poor work, etc. The university is a place of higher learning, and perhaps we can learn something from its venue. Just this week, there was a report in England about the major health risks and potential early epidemic of such binge drinking, and I don't think the university ought to be part of it any more than its students already are (as are most colleges' students).


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:20 a.m.

Too bad this isn't a university event. Perhaps UofM should take a principled stand against alcohol abuse by banning alcohol from the golf course on football Saturdays. That might actually make sense. Better still, every time a student is caught binge drinking, the police should call their mommies and daddies to alert them.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

johnnya2 " Loosening alcohol restrictions would take away the appeal of binge drinking" That's about the most backward "reasoning" I have ever seen. What restrictions hinder YOU from binge drinking? That's like saying loosening driving restrictions will mean less accidents!


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

1. So some people binge drink so nobody can drink? 2. Loosening alcohol restrictions would take away the appeal of binge drinking 3. The will occur on New Years Day. The tickets will not be marketed to students and quite honestly most will be gone or too poor to go to the classic


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Valid points....but this is NOT a college event. In fact there probably won't be ANY university kids there unless they can fork over the 200-500 dollars per seat for this NHL game. Have you ever been to a Red Wings game?....

Robert Granville

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Bring alcohol back to the Big House for football saturdays! The student section would certainly fill on time.... haha

Ron Granger

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I call dibs on the "head boozekeeper" position!


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Canadians + Beer = $$$ (and destruction lots of peeing on trees on the Golf Course).


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

In other words, just another game day in Ann Arbor, but with ice skates.

Linda Peck

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

I would prefer this event to be "bone dry." I really dislike sporting events that encourage alcohol consumption, especially since families with younger children attend, along with adults who are not drinking alcohol. The atmosphere changes dramatically when alcohol is being served. Not everyone appreciates the changes this ingredient makes.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 10:18 a.m.

@Irwin...I'm not arguing Ian SeaCat Mchigan Sadium cost way more than that per game....but all those in the end zones do not...and all those in the student section pay even less...that's half the stadium. Let me repeat...There will NOT be many ( if any) students at this game and the ENTIRE stadium will be filled with NHL fans paying a minimum of 200 dollars per seat (with much much higher at the premium end) for a single hockey event. More so the expectation is that 99 percent of the folks at that game won't even be from Ann Arbor or Washtenaw County.

Irwin Daniels

Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

@Halter In today's football market (UM) the average seat costs big time. Without the seat license games are getting very close to the $ 100 mark.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Alcohol sales at a venue do not necessarily equal encouragement of alcohol consumption. Alcohol sales encourage fun, because drinking is fun.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

"...I really dislike sporting events that encourage alcohol consumption..." In other words you don't go to sporting events.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Halter The will be enough children at the game that could not otherwise see the wings! The children are not the issue. They see their parents drinking and telling them they should not. The issue is whether some have enough backbone to do without for a few hours. Don't sell alcohol and the stands will still be full.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

How many "children" do you think are going to be at this event?? This isn't a UM football game...this in an NHL hockey game that will be filled with big, adult, 200 dollar a seat hockey paying fans, not families with children....


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

More important than whether beer will be sold at the game, is whether open alcohol will be permissible at the pre-game tailgates.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Rather scary how many people need/want to drink at sporting events.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Yes, I like alcohol at sporting events and I also like music at a concert hall and nudity at a strip club.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

If you are NOT dependent on alcohol try going 1 day WITHOUT it! Just another crutch.

Robert Granville

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Stop making fun of Cleveland fans...


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Yes, everything is "scary" these day. People wanting to enjoy a beverage ... oh the horror! /get a grip


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Scarier still are the people who still think Prohibition is a good idea.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Just figure out who needs to be bribed and make it happen.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Great. After paying for (to be determined) surely expensive tickets the price will include watching brawling on and off the ice. Consumption of large quantities of alcohol will help guarantee that.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

cinnabar7071: Of course it is. I'm glad to see my subtlety can be grasped by even the simplest of readers.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

Sure Bob, because there is no alcohol anywhere near Michigan Stadium on football Saturdays.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Yes, SalineBob -- that is all part of the game of Hockey.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

SMC your statement is rather sexist., with a hint of bullying.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Alcohol is the least of your concerns for what really happens in the student section. Maybe if they started serving alcohol the ticket prices could drop a little bit. I know at least one guy who would blow 50 bucks on beer to keep my pre-game buzz on. THIS GUY!


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

"Maybe if they started serving alcohol the ticket prices could drop a little bit." Talk about a pipe dream!

Ron Granger

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

This is just one in a series of incremental steps that will lead to them selling alcohol at the stadium ....... because they "need" the money.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

That would require the NCAA to reverse their rule on sales of alcohol at NCAA-sanctioned on-campus sporting events, which will probably never happen.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

The U of M gets what the U of M wants. End of story.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Since our state government has recently repealed a sensible safety law to promote alcohol consumption, I'm certain they'll allow beer sales for one day at Michigan stadium. As it should be.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Eastern is able to serve beer and wine at the Convocation Center for events such as the most recent Bob Seger concert that was there. However, the profits went to a non-profit, I believe Safe House, and I am sure the U of M and the NHL don't want something like that happening with the revenue. Also, do we really need the advertising? I think just allowing it to be bought and sold is enough. Lastly, how about writing it to promote michigan brews, eh?


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

I'd love to see a good selection of Michigan beers available, but the tricky bit is whether some of the smaller breweries could produce enough to supply this event, or even a portion of it. Plus, if Olympia Entertainment is involved, we'll probably end up with the usual selection of swill, which hopefully will include Molson, since it's one of the few see-through beers I can tolerate.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

I know, I opt for Molson's, but a little Short's or Bell's on tap would be nice too.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

There will have to be Molson or Labatt available, or the visiting Maple Leafs fans will riot.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

So let me get this straight. Mary Sue basically flips these guys the bird when they want stem cell information but now U of M wants the same people to pass a special law so they can make a ton of money selling beer at the big game? Gee, maybe just clip a bunch of news articles about the evils of drinking on campus and tell them "NO".

David Vande Bunte

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3 p.m.

"The fact that there will be liquor served is no problem whatsoever," regent S. Martin Taylor said in February. "This in a non-university event. We are truly just leasing the facilities." I agree with this logic completely. I fully support the University banning alcohol for all college games, but the winter classic is not a college game, it's an NHL game.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

I grew up in Ann Arbor and we always drank at the games. Due to the underage college students, the big house stopped serving. This should not be for a special event, a license should be for ALL EVENTS AT THE BIG HOUSE.

Blue Marker

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

I was told by a friend they serve beer at WVU / Morgantown. Not that Morgantown should be used as a example of anything really, but it's true. So no, not an NCAA thing.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Before Minnesota got it's new TCF stadium, you could drink in the dome. That was a fairly awesome discovery when I went to a road game out there.